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Trekking in Nepal
When it comes to trekking, Nepal is paradise!
This website is dedicated to providing the most up-to-date and reliable information on trekking in Nepal. It is maintained by trekkers and revised regularly.
On this page we provide general information on the Himalayas, Nepal, trekking routes and preparation.
Feel free to browse the useful links, engage and comment on the various articles and contact us directly if you have any specific questions or want free recommendations on reliable and ethical tour operators.
We are always happy to help.
- The Himalayas and Nepal
- Weather and Best Time to Trek
- Tour Agents, Guides and Independent Treks
- Trekking Gear
- Tourist Visas
- Trekking Regions and Routes
The Himalayas and Nepal
Nepal sits slap bang in the middle of the Himalayan range and is home to eight of the ten highest mountain peaks in the world, including Mount Everest (which shares a border with Tibet in the North as well)!
Amazingly, the Himalayan range, which crosses four other countries – Pakistan, India, Bhutan and China – has over one hundred mountains that exceed 7,200 meters (23,600 feet).
To put this in perspective, the highest mountain outside of Asia is Aconcagua, which sits at 6,961 meters (22,838 feet) in the South American Andes.
The sheer height and magnificence of the Himalayas is attributed to the continental collision, uplift and folding of the Indo-Australian Plate with the Eurasian Plate, which is thought to have occurred around 50 million years ago.
The Himalayan range is bordered by the Karakoram and Hindu Kush ranges in the North-west, the Tibetan Plateau in the North, and the Indo-Gangetic Plain in the South.
Nepal’s position, in the middle of the Himalayas, make it one of the world’s most sort after trekking and climbing destinations in the world. In fact, trekking and climbing is one of the most popular activities in Nepal and a major attraction for tourism, and driver for economic activity in the country.
Over 240 mountain peaks in Nepal breach the 6,000 meter mark (~20,000 feet) – the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro, is 5,895 meters.
Thirty-three mountain peaks in Nepal, with heights ranging from 5,650 meters to 6,500 meters, are classified as ‘trekking peaks’. Although as many as 15 require some, if not a lot, of climbing experience.
Trekking in Nepal – Best Time to Trek
Trekking in Nepal is best done during the dry and warm months of late February through June or September through November.
During these months temperatures tend to be ‘moderate’ by Nepalese standards and the skies are often clear, providing great vistas of the Himalayas.
Of course, as these months are optimal for trekking, most routes in Nepal tend to get busy. There are however some quieter more remote routes that can be followed to avoid the crowds.
The summer monsoon arrives in June and gets into full swing during the months of July and August. These last two months are generally wet and unpleasant, characterised by serious rain and leeches! You can however find good trekking in rain-shadow areas like the Mustang, Dolpo and Upper Manang during these months.
The winter months of December, January and February, although very cold, can give trekkers on lower routes and unclosed paths a very authentic Nepal trekking experience. They are however, not ideal for the faint-hearted and better suited for rugged trekkers who enjoy the hardships and challenges that come with trekking in freezing conditions.
Trekking in Nepal – Tour Agents, Guides and Independent Treks
One of the key benefits of trekking in Nepal is that there are a number of options available in terms of how you want to organize your trek.
Generally though, there are three ways to trek in Nepal:
- Join an organized trekking group
- Acquire the services of a guide and /or a porter to assist you with your trek
- Trek independently
The option you choose will usually be dictated by the difficulty of the trek, your experience and available budget.
Organized treks are best suited for trekkers looking to do long or challenging routes, or for those who are unfamiliar with Nepal / trekking in general and want the comfort of being part of an organised tour where your safety, comfort and trekking experience are in the reliable hands of a respectable operator.
Organized guided treks come in many shapes and forms, but all need to be managed by tour agencies that are registered with the Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN). Please note: if an agency, hotel or anyone else offers you a guided trek and they are not TAAN registered, then they are operating illegally and you should not acquire their services.
Organized treks cover all administrative requirements and costs like land transportation, trekking / climbing permits, taxes, porter insurance and National Park fees. Group treks generally consist of guides, porters and cooks who carry all required supplies (camping materials, your gear, food and cooking supplies) up the mountain. You are only required to carry light essentials in a small daypack. Tents and food are assembled and prepared for you at each campsite and the general organization and operation of the trek is often overseen by a Chief Guide called a Sirdar.
Three types of tour agents / operators dominate the market.
Firstly, there are local tour agents that run their own operations or outsource to local operators in the region. You will see many of these local agencies in the trekking and climbing hubs of Kathmandu and Pokhara.
Secondly, there are international tour agents that outsource to local tour agents / operators.
And finally, there are international tour agents that own and operate on-the-ground operations in Nepal.
The first group tend to be the cheapest out of the three but can often be hit and miss in terms of quality. If you decide to go with a local agent in Nepal make sure you shop around a bit, compare itineraries and check to see what is included and not included in the trek. Ask around for recommendations and most importantly, make sure that the agent is properly TAAN registered.
The second group are generally very reliable as they have long-term and established relationships with local operators who have great track records. Obviously they tend to be more expensive as they mark-up their prices for international trekkers who are looking for that extra surety in quality and safety.
The final group are a rare breed. They tend to specialise in the most technically challenging trekking routes / climbs, can design bespoke programmes for trekkers and hold full control of your trekking experience from beginning to end. The service often comes at a premium, but because they have their own on-the-ground operations, they can often also be price competitive for popular and uncomplicated treks – like Everest Base Camp.
Acquiring the services of a local guide or porter, or trekking independently
If you are an accustomed adventurer with some experience dealing with Nepalese locals and trekking in Nepal, then you may want to consider trekking independently or acquiring the services of a guide or porter to assist you on your trek and keep you company. Please note: as an independent trekker it is illegal to use a guide or porter that is not licenced as a trekking agent through TAAN, or affiliated with a licenced trekking agent.
As an independent trekker you will need a trekking permit, which varies depending on the region that you are looking to trek. You will also need to pay National Park Entrance fees.
The largest and most popular trekking regions of Annapurna, Khumbu and Langtang / Helambu require independent trekkers to have a Trekker Information Management System (TIMS) card which can be bought for NPR2,000 (US$20) from the Nepal Tourism Board offices in Kathmandu and Pokhara, or from the TAAN offices. Please note: Independent TIMS cards are green, not to be confused with blue TIMS cards that are issued to trekkers that are part of a group with a licenced guide. Blue TIMS card can be bought for NPR1,000 (US$10).
See TIMS Nepal to find out how to acquire a TIMS card and what documentation you will need to show in order to be issued a card.
Special trekking permits for restricted areas like Mustang, Kanchenjunga, Dolpo and Manaslu can only be obtained through licenced trekking agents.
If you plan to do any trekking peaks, like Island Peak or Mera Peak, you will need a climbing permit which can be obtained from the Nepal Mountaineering Association.
Trekking in Nepal – Trekking Gear
The trekking gear you choose to take with you to Nepal will depend on what type of trekking you plan to do and which route you plan to take.
A key principle is to stay as light as possible, particularly if you plan to trek independently.
A lot of gear can be rented from trekking agents or bought in the towns of Kathmandu or Pokhara.
Nonetheless, there are some mandatory trekking gear requirements which we think you should rather bring with you – we have briefly set these out below. Please read our detailed Nepal trekking gear article for more information, reviews and gear recommendations.
Hiking boots: First off you will need a good pair or well worn-in hiking boots. Do not arrive in Nepal with badly fitted boots or brand new boots. You will undoubtedly get sore feet and blisters.
Sleeping bag: A very warm (protection up to -10 degrees Celsius), mummy-shaped sleeping bag.
Clothing: A selection of layered trekking clothing, from next-to-skin base layers, to fleece second layers and a water / wind proof shell jacket and trousers. Also bring trekking socks, thermal socks, warm gloves and warm headwear. Detailed information on trekking clothing for Nepal can be found here.
Trekking poles: Adjustable trekking poles that are easy to store and sturdy under pressure.
Sunglasses: High UV protection sunglasses that can deal with the sun intensity and glare in Nepal.
Daypack and Duffle: A light-weight daypack to carry your essentials and a duffle bag to carry your trekking gear.
Headlamp: Good quality, LED headlamp
Other accessories: Water bottles / hydration bags, water purification tablets, general medications, snacks and toiletry supplies (although these can be purchased on most routes but increase in price as you get higher)
Full overview on Nepal trekking gear, including a nifty checklist, is available here.
Tourist visa for Trekking in Nepal
All foreigners (except Indians) require a tourist visa to enter Nepal. Visas are issued at entry ports into Nepal or can be obtained at the Nepalese Embassy in your country of origin (note: Passport holders from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iraq, Liberia, Nigeria, Palestine, Somalia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe need to obtain a visa in their country of origin before arriving in Nepal).
Visa fees are as follows:
- Multiple entry, 15 days = US$15
- Multiple entry, 30 days = US$40
- Multiple entry, 90 days = US$100
Tourist visas can be extended at the Immigration Department in Kathmandu for a total maximum stay of 150 days in a calendar year.
You will need a valid passport, one passport photograph and the tourist visa fee to obtain a visa when you enter Nepal.
Trekking in Nepal – Regions and Trekking Options
Apart from housing some of the highest mountain peaks and breath-taking views in the World, Nepal is particularly popular as it offers a vast variety of trekking routes.
There are short routes and long routes, easy routes and challenging routes, busy routes and remote routes. There are routes for young trekkers and families, as well as routes for veteran trekkers and adventure-seekers.
Nowadays, there are even routes that offer healthy living experiences that encompass meditation, yoga and cultural tours to traditional Nepalese villages.
Below is an overview of trekking in Nepal routes by region. The map shows the 10 main Nepal trekking regions. Please click on the region names or individual routes to get detailed itineraries.
Far West Region
The Far West Region of Nepal is often overlooked due to it’s rather remote geographic location and poor infrastructure. However, this is fast changing due to a large investment and promotion effort that begun in 2008.
The region offers an authentic trekking in Nepal experience that is hard to match in any of the other regions. Covering just over 25% of the Great Himalayan Range (if you include Rara National Park), the region is the largest in Nepal.
The region is home to the second largest district in Nepal, Humla, in the North and Darchula, Bajura and Bajhang in the South.
Trekking routes are still undeveloped and rustic in the region, with little in the way of established accommodation and availability of foodstuffs. However, these characteristics give the region a charm and wonder reminiscent of what early 1950s explorers must have experienced when Nepal first opened up to foreigners.
If you are looking to escape the trekking in Nepal crowds and experience an untouched environment, then the Far West region is for you.
Rara National Park
Established in 1976, Rara National Park, is an area of incredible natural beauty. It lies in the North-west of the country in a remote area called Karnali and houses Rara Lake – Nepal’s largest lake.
Like treks in the Far Western Region, there are a number of trek variations, but the most popular is the Rara Lake Trek.
Rara Lake Trek (10-14 days) – Provides an ‘off-the-beaten’ track experience characterized by pristine natural beauty, snow-capped Himalaya peaks that reflect off the glassy Rara Lake, and the best opportunity to view wildlife like musk deer, tahr, Himalayan black bear, leopards, ghoral, and if you are lucky the red panda.
The Dolpo Region is another remote and incredibly beautiful part of Nepal. It runs from the border of Tibetan Plateau in the North, often referred to as the Upper Dolpo, to the large east-west valley system that sits in the South, or Lower Dolpo.
To the east are the Khyaklum and Dhaulagiri Himals which creat a border with the Mustang and Annapurna region respectively, and give Dolpo a sense of isolation from the rest of Nepal
Most trekkers enter the Dolpo via Juphal and then follow various routes either in the Lower Dolpo region or further North and West in the Upper Dolpo or Mugu.
The Dhaulagiri Region houses the seventh highest mountain in the world, Mt. Dhaulagiri (8,137 meters), and is one of the more remote areas of Nepal.
The region is ideal for experienced high altitude trekkers who are looking to avoid the crowds that are common in the Annapurna, Langtang and Khumba regions. It is also only available in the Autumn months (October through December) as heavy snow and ice conditions in the winter and spring make the region inhospitable.
Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek (15-18 days) – The trek is not for the faint-hearted. It includes strenuous hiking at high altitude and potential use of ropes on the moraines near Dhaulagiri Base Camp. Traversing the awe-inspiring French and Dhampus passes, the Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek is in our opinion one of the finest in Nepal!
The Annapurna region is the most popular trekking area in Nepal. It is situated just north of the trekking city of Pokhara and encompasses Annapurna I, the 10th highest mountain in the world at 8,091 meters, as well as 13 mountain peaks over 7,000 meters and 16 more peaks over 6,000 meters.
The area is characterised by alpine meadows, glaciers and moraines.
Here are the main trekking routes in the Annapurna region – use the links to find detailed route information and itineraries.
Annapurna Circuit (up to three weeks) – One of the most iconic treks in the world, although road development in recent years has led to lots of negative publicity. The trek follows a counter-clockwise route, passing through the Lamjung, Manang, Mustang andMyagdi regions. Perfect for trekkers with lots of spare time on their hands.
Annapurna Sanctuary Trek (~14 days) – A classic trek that starts either at Phedi or Nayapul, north of Pokhara and traverses the Annapurna Sanctuary via Chomrong to Annapurna Base Camp.
Annapurna Base Camp Trek (7-14 days) – A popular trek as it can be reached via various routes including the sanctuary trek above.
Jomsom Muktinath Trek (5-12 days) – A moderate to easy trek in the Mustang region, north of the Annapurna Range. The trek includes awe-inspiring views of Annapurna I and traverses the Kali Gandaki River – the world’s deepest gorge.
Poon Hill Trek (3-5 days) – A short, but beautiful trek that typically starts at Nayapul which is one hours drive from Pokhara. A relatively easy trek, with a maximum elevation of 3,200 meters.
The Royal Trek (3-4 days) – One of the shortest and easiest treks in Nepal, the Royal trek follows the same path taken by Prince Charles in the 1980s, and takes it’s name from this excursion. Great for trekkers who have limited time and are looking for a light and easy trekking experience.
Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek (6-8 days) – A short and relatively easy trek which is often referred to as the small Annapurna Circuit. Perfect for novice trekkers looking for an authentic trekking in Nepal experinece without too much strenuous activity!
Mustang lies North-west of Annapurna and extends north onto the Tibetan Plateau. Upper Mustang region is still home to ancient Mustang-Tibetan communities that sit in stark contrast to the advancing modernization of Nepal.
The main trail in Mustang runs North-South from Lo Monthang to Jomsom, and all treks require restricted access permits
Mustang Circuit (12-14 days) – Begins in Jomsom and can be combined with various trails to Naar, Damadhar Kund, Saribung and Muktinath. The highest point is Mui La at 4,170 meters and difficulty is easy-moderate.
Upper Mustang Trek (18-20 days) – Typically the Upper Mustang Trek is a continuation of the Mustang Circuit to the Northern communities of the Upper Mustang region. Ideal for those looking to experience the fascinating lives of ancient Mustang communities.
Situated in the centre of Nepal, the Manaslu Region encompasses both the Manaslu and Ganesh Himals. The latter consists of seven major peaks which form a natural border with Tibet in the North. Further south and west is the massive summit of Manaslu (8,163 meters), the eighth highest mountain in the world.
Apart from the striking natural beauty of the region, the area is also culturally diverse offering trekkers rich insight into the various groups of Nepalese people that inhabitant the regions hills and valleys.
A number of trek variations and trails are available, but the most popular is the Manaslu Circuit Trek
Manaslu Circuit Trek (12-14 days) – Providing an unbeatable mix of incredible scenery and cultural diversity, the Manaslu Circuit is often considered the finest trek in Nepal. Ideal for the intermediate trekker or anyone with a good degree of fitness.
Lying just north of Kathmandu, the Langtang region is the third most popular trekking region in Nepal (after Annapurna and the Khumba / Everest region), and it’s obvious to see why. It has incredible scenery that includes the Langtang and Kangja Himals, diverse ethnic communities and perfect positioning near the trekking center of Kathmandu.
The region has a multitude of trails that offer trekkers many variations in length and difficulty. Below are the main trails in the region.
Langtang Valley Trek (7-10 days) – A very popular trek through the Langtang National Park (second largest national park in Nepal). Treks typically begin in Dunche, the main trading post in the area, and follow the beautiful alpine valley to Kyangjin before circling back. Ideal for novice or intermediate trekkers
Helumba Trek (7-10 days) – Helumba sits just North of Kathmandu and is inhabited by Sherpas and Tamang people. Ideal for trekkers who do not want to venture too far from Kathmandu
Gosainkunda Trek (10-14 days) – Typically encompasses the Langtang Valley Trek and includes a visit to Gosainkunda Lake, a sacred Hindu lake where pilgrims congregate to wash off their sins. A popular trek that is usually approach via Trishuli valley, North-west of Kathmandu
Rolwaling Trek (x days) – Technically situated between the Langtang and Khumba region is the Rolwaling Valley – known as one of the seven hidden valleys in the Himalayas. The area provides a unique quiet spot in a busy region and offers adventurous trekkers / climbers the opportunity to utilize their mountaineering skills as ropes are required!
Khumba / Everest Region
The Everest region, or Khumba, is based in the Northeast of Nepal and is designated a World Heritage Site. Most of the region is based above 3,000 meters.
The region is grand on all scales. Home to four of the six highest mountains in the world – Mount Everest, Mount Lhotse, Mount Makalu, and Cho Oyu – the region is quite simply one of hyperbole.
Everest Base Camp Trek (12-14 days) – An extremely popular trek for obvious reasons, the Everest Base Camp Trek provide a moderate to easy trek via the legendary Sherpa village of Namche Bazaar and Tengboche Monastery, the leading Buddhist center in the Khumbu. Variations on the Everest Base Camp Trek, like a visit to Gokyo Lakes or further ‘climbing’ expedition up Island Peak, are also popular.
Khumba Valley Trek (12-16 days) – A classic trek due to it’s location in the shadow of Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) in the Sagarmatha National Park. A moderate-to-strenuous trek due to its isolated location, this trek gives a full trekking in Nepal experience.
Makalu Base Camp Trek (18-22 days) – A long and strenuous hike (especially the second half) takes trekkers through the Makalu-Barun National Park in the North-east of the Khumba region, which houses the five highest mountain in the world – Makalu (8,470 meters). Not for the faint-hearted, but a great trek that is surprisingly quiet due to its remote location in the region and lack of tea houses.
Mera Peak (Nepal trekking peak) – At 6,746 meters, Mera Peak is classified as a Nepal trekking peak, this is to say that it requires some mountaineering experience with ropes used on the final section to the summit. Only recommended for the adventurous soul who has some previous high altitude trekking and basic mountaineering skills.
Island Peak (Nepal trekking peak) – A challenging trekking peak in Nepal, Island Peak is usually combined with an Everest Base Camp trek to give one time to acclimatize and prepare for the strenuous ascent of the 6,176 meter summit. Again, this ‘trek’ is only recommended for those with high altitude trekking experience and basic mountaineering skills.
Home to vast rhododendron forests and the third highest mountain in the world, Mt. Kachenjunga (8,586 meters), this far eastern region of Nepal is remote, rugged and beautiful.
Kanchenjunga massif is characterized by loads of peaks and valleys but can be seen to split into two sections. The southwest face and ridges, around Yalung, and the north face where the Kachenjunga Base Camp is situated.
Treks vary in the region, but most trekkers enter via Taplejung. The most popular trek in the region is the Kachenjunga Base Camp Trek.